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'Lot of Excitement': New Restaurants, Businesses Opening This Month Throughout Downtown 
A new restaurant is slated to open in January in the Century Building on Gay Street - one of more than a dozen new amenities coming to downtown.
A new tacos and tequila restaurant, Cholo Taqueria, is slated to open in January in the Century Building on Gay Street - one of more than a dozen new amenities coming soon to downtown.

New restaurants and businesses are popping up across downtown Knoxville - some just in time for holiday merry-making!

The new eateries, retailers and residential developments that are opening their doors this winter will offer downtowners an increasingly diverse selection of food experiences, services, and condominium and apartment options.

"There is a lot of excitement downtown, for sure," says Rick Emmett, the City of Knoxville's Downtown Coordinator. "We're seeing new businesses open up every week, and there are about 1,000 new residential units open or under construction.

"Downtown is incredibly vibrant. We're enjoying a robust mix of people and things to do. It's where everyone wants to be."

A steady stream of businesses have launched in recent weeks - and more are set to open before or just after Jan. 1.

Six weeks ago, the Phoenix Pharmacy and Fountain, a locally owned drugstore, moved into 418 S. Gay St. in the Phoenix Building. The new space eventually will include an old-fashioned soda fountain, a diner and an urgent care center.

If what ails you is only an empty stomach, then consider visiting Oliver Royale. The Oliver Hotel’s new restaurant opened Nov. 9 and features a seasonal lunch and dinner menu that will rotate every few months.

Just a few blocks away in the former J.C. Penney Building, 412 S. Gay St., is Babalu Tacos & Tapas. Featuring unique specialty cocktails, guacamole made tableside and a long list of gourmet tacos and tapas made with a Southern twist, Babalu opened Nov. 23.

If locally-distilled spirits pique your interest, check out Knox Whiskey Works, which opened Dec. 4. This small-batch craft distillery at 516 W. Jackson Ave. is a Knoxville pioneer. The new business has four locally-made spirits: whiskey, gin, vodka, and coffee liqueur, which is available in samples in the tasting room. Knox Whiskey Works will also host tours of the distillery.

Maybe wine is more to your taste. The Old City Wine Bar will be opening in late December. The 108 W. Jackson Ave. bar will provide a “space where people can gather after work or for a night out with friends without the distraction of televisions or blaring live music,” according to its website.

Also later this month, Cholo Taqueria will open on the ground floor of the Century Building on Gay Street. The tacos and tequila restaurant is backed by some of the same folks who developed another Market Square favorite, Stock and Barrel.

That's just the partial list of businesses that have recently opened already or that anticipate opening this month. But the momentum will continue into 2016, with residential developments opening as well as a new brewery.

The first half of The Daniel lofts on Jackson Avenue will be available to residents on Jan. 1, 2016. The rest of the 70 upscale units will be occupied by April 1.

Also beginning in early January, the first residents will move into their new homes at Marble Alley — 248 luxury apartments located in the heart of downtown, between State and Central streets.

Meanwhile, tenants are already filling the 17 residential units of the former J.C. Penney Building on Gay Street.

Of course, downtown also will soon offer new dining options in the new year. (Timely, in case, after a month of cookies, hot chocolate and full-course family meals, your taste buds are craving something that doesn’t scream holiday food.)

In January, head over to Archer’s BBQ, which will be opening its fifth Knoxville location at 408 S. Gay St., next door to Babalu.

Or try out Balter Beerworks, a craft microbrewery, restaurant and beer garden opening in January at 203 W. Jackson Ave.

Have a special day coming up later this winter? Make a note to celebrate it at the old Patrick Sullivan’s Saloon in the Old City. Order a steak at the new Lonesome Dove Western Bistro, which opens early next year. Or if fine dining isn’t your scene, then try the Love Shack, a new burger joint that will be located just next door at 100 N. Central St. Both establishments will be run by renowned chef Tim Love.

By the end of winter, Market House Café will be opening at 36 Market Square. The café will play Scruffy City Radio and Scruffy TV. The restaurant will serve coffee, bread and pastries at breakfast, then provide meals for the lunch and dinner hours.

With so many choices, help your fellow foodies navigate the downtown restaurant scene! When you try one of the new restaurants, share your experience with the City of Knoxville and Visit Knoxville by using the hashtag #knoxrocks on social media.

-Written by Communications Intern Sarah Marshall

Babalu Tacos & Tapas opened in the former J.C. Penney Building last month, and it features Latin-styled cuisine with a Southern flair.
Babalu Tacos & Tapas opened in the former J.C. Penney Building last month, and it features Latin-styled cuisine with a Southern flair.

Knox Whiskey Works on Jackson Avenue offers spirits distilled on site.
Knox Whiskey Works, 516 W. Jackson Ave., offers four small-batch craft spirits distilled on site.

Residents in a few weeks will start moving into The Daniel lofts in the Old City.
Residents in a few weeks will start moving into The Daniel lofts in the Old City.

The Lonesome Dove Western Bistro is slated to open in the former Patrick Sullivan's Saloon building in January.
The Lonesome Dove Western Bistro is slated to open in the former Patrick Sullivan's Saloon building early next year. Next door will be the Love Shack burger restaurant.

Posted by evreeland On 16 December, 2015 at 11:48 AM